By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS (Reuters) -French retailers Carrefour (PA:CARR) and Auchan have ended exploratory talks over a possible partnership, a source close to the matter said on Monday, adding that a potential equity deal had looked too complex in terms of valuation and structure.
The discussions, which started in the spring, reviewed various scenarios ranging from equity tie-ups to asset swaps and technological partnerships, the source said.
It was unclear at this stage if there was potential for talks to be revived.
A second source familiar with the talks said Carrefour had broken off the talks but Auchan, which is owned by the Mulliez family, did not plan to make a hostile move for its rival.
The same source also said that in its latest proposal Auchan had offered Carrefour 21.50 euros per share worth 16.8 billion euros ($19.4 billion). That represented an upside of over 30% over its share price last week, with 70% payable in cash and 30% in shares of the future merged company.
Carrefour said in June it had started considering possible consolidation, divestitures or tie-ups of its foreign subsidiaries, but had not made a decision to sell any assets.
In January, Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard dropped its 16.2 billion euro ($19.6 billion) bid for Carrefour after the French government opposed the deal, citing food security concerns.
Carrefour shares were 0.03% lower at 16.02 euros as of 0812 GMT.
“We think there is potential for further offers from Auchan or at least strategic assets disposals,” Bernstein analysts said in a note.
($1 = 0.8648 euros)